Social Insurance

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If you want mental health services to prevent violence, Medicaid expansion is critical

TCF fellow Harold Pollack responded to the recent shooting on an Oregon college campus, saying that if we are to use mental illness as a scapegoat for many shootings, then we must seriously consider providing better treatment to patients. He suggests better treatment in the form of Medicaid expansion—as opposed to gun reform. 

Cornyn’s proposal does not address the most glaring issue in American mental health policy: the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion was always the public health cornerstone of ACA. It remains the single most important measure to expand access to mental health and addiction treatment, serving severely vulnerable populations such as the homeless, addressing the complicated medical and psychiatric difficulties of many young men cycling through our jails and prisons.

Check out the rest of Pollack's article on Medicaid expansion via the Washington Post.

Tags: mental health, medicaid expansion, gun violence, gun reform

Our Health System Has Big Problems But…

TCF fellow Harold Pollack wrote in Washington Monthly's "Ten Square Miles" that despite the U.S. healthcare and insurance system being a disaster, the nation's mortality rate has surely impressively improved in terms of human mortality rates. Pollack shares some graphs that show these findings:

Read Pollack's article and view the rest of the graphs.

Tags: mortality, healthcare system, gdp

Who will care for my brother-in-law Vincent?

TCF fellow Harold Pollack comments on the fate of individuals who are the recipients of intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) services. In his article for the Chicago Sun Times, he describes the unfortunate circumstances of some states' tax laws that result in minimal funding for allowances and other disability services.

Residents of intermediate care facilities received $30. Imagine if that were all you had for an entire month to cover everything from the copayment on some medicine, a dental visit, the occasional tee-shirt or pair of socks, cup of coffee, or trip to McDonald’s.

Read Pollack's full Opinion article.

Tags: intellectual disability, disability services, disability program, budget deficit, allowance

A Conversation with Crowdfunder Luis Lang

TCF fellow Harold Pollack, who has chronicled health insurance issues in the past, conducted an interview with an individual who has incurred high costs for medical procedures and holds often conflicting (but mostly negative) views of the Affordable Care Act. Pollack delves into the politics of health care reform in the interview and provides a detailed transcript:

Lang: So I filled it out. I got approved. I go for my fourth session and the bill went from $80 … and I was expecting it to go down … went up to over $600.

Pollack: Oh, wow.

Lang: And so I’m like “Okay, I need an explanation of this.” And what they told me at that moment was because the Affordable Healthcare Act going into effect, he could no longer give me the discounts he was giving me. But I was okay with it because the three injections that I got was enough to clear my eye out.

Read the full transcription printed in

Tags: obamacare, insurance, health coverage, health care reform, affordable care act

The Double Standard of Making the Poor Prove They’re Worthy of Government Benefits

There are two types of government benefits that are disbursed to citizens, but the recipients of each of these are treated differently depending on their income level. Welfare recipients are often observed with more scrutiny, as if they are expected to not use their benefits properly. The other group of recipients, that is those receiving Pell grants or mortgage loans, are paid less attention to because these types of benefits are part of what TCF fellow Suzanne Mettler calls the "submerged state."

Many, many Americans who do receive these other kinds of government benefits — farm subsidies, student loans, mortgage tax breaks — don't recognize that, like the poor, they get something from government, too. That's because government gives money directly to poor people, but it gives benefits to the rest of us in ways that allow us to tell ourselves that we get nothing from government at all.

Find out more about the "submerged state" from this Washington Post article.

Tags: welfare applicants, subsidies, submerged state, poor families, government services

Patching Up the Social Safety Net

The "social safety net" has been a complicated concept since the 1960's, since many of its programs benefit the poor, but need funding support from the whole population. TCF fellow Edward Kleinbard offers one solution that is highlighted in his book, "We Are Better Than This," which is to "raise[ing] top tax rates to where they were in the Clinton era and pare[ing] some personal tax deductions that benefit the better off."

As demands on Social Security and Medicare grow over time, pressure will be enormous to cut benefits, mostly at the top. If Mr. Cohen was right, this will drain political support from the only universal programs we have left. They may become poor programs too.

Read the NY Times piece featuring Kleinbard.

Tags: social security, social safety net, medicare, medicaid


Social Insurance

Social Insurance

Compared to other advanced nations, America’s retirement security and health care systems offer weaker protections against risks we all face. The Century Foundation’s work focuses on ideas for strengthening Social Security, pensions, and health care – including steps for building on the Affordable Care Act.

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